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Playing games with Omar Sharif.

Playing games with Omar Sharif. (photo)

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This isn’t precisely news, but if you’re in London looking for something to do Saturday night, and have between £100-365 to spare, you could do worse with your time than attending the 10th Annual Omar Sharif Poker & Backgammon Tournament. The low-end price gets you food, drink and spectatorship; the full buy enters you into a charity tournament. In any case, you’ll be at a club (in both senses) featuring a large statue of copulating Greyhounds. And you’ll be gambling with Omar Sharif! What could be more exciting?

To promote this event, Sharif has given a brief but delightful interview in which he basically says he only cares about sports and opera. As for movies, he almost never sees any: “I choose it carefully, because I must be sure that I will like it!” He’s seen three “wonderful movies” in the last 30 years: “E.T.,” “Billy Elliot” and “Amadeus.” Something he does have the time to watch regularly is Larry King. It’s a spectacular display of disinterest in everything except the finer things in life which, in his case, mostly means gambling. Sharif is well known as a bridge player, though he claims in recent years to have sworn it off. At his peak, he had bridge games on multiple computer game platforms, co-wrote a bridge column and got in an argument with a Paris roulette croupier. He also disapproves of American policy in Iraq and claims to have spoken with W. about it. His mustache remains, after all these years, resplendent.

05072010_mars.jpgWhat I’m saying here is that it’s time to officially declare Omar Sharif a cultural punchline, the same way, say, Tim Burton valorized Tom Jones in “Mars Attacks!” or The Monkees ran through Victor Mature’s hair in “Head.” For a guy who essentially was only globally famous and respected for seven years (from his “Lawrence of Arabia” break-out in 1962 up through “Funny Girl” in 1968) and who spent most of his career in films like 1980’s “Oh Heavenly Dog” and 2008’s “10,000 BC,” he’s still remarkably famous. Like Jones and Mature, he’s a man whose image is so dated it’s actually become kind of charming. He’s too strange to imagine persisting as a real star; his particular brand of touchy charisma and brooding masculinity was always close to self-parody, and now he’s just odd. He apparently has no sense of humor about himself and is very proud of his mostly unremarkable work. His persistence is inspiring.

Here’s Sharif promoting one of his poker products in 1987. It’s uncomfortably awkward viewing. And yes, they play “Lara’s Theme” from “Doctor Zhivago” (just out on Blu-Ray, by the way):

[Photos: “Doctor Zhivago,” Warner Home Video, 1965; “Mars Attacks!,” Warner Bros., 1996.]


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.